The State Opera is a sanctuary of classical music, opera singing and ballet. Top opera singers are part of the ensemble, and the building often hosts significant performers from abroad. If you don’t know how to spend an evening in Prague, a high-quality programme of the State Opera is a good bet.
ATTENTION! Information for the visitors: the building of the State Opera is currently under reconstruction. During its closure, it is possible to see opera and ballet performances in the National Theatre and at Musical Theatre in Karlín.
Beginnings only in German
Since 2012, the State Opera has been part of the Prague scene of the National Theatre, completing the cultural programme of the so-called ‘Golden Chapel’, the Estates Theatre, the New Scene, and the Musical Theatre in Karlín. The Neo-Renaissance building of the State Opera was originally a project of the New German Theatre opened at the beginning of 1888. The building was financed by private fund-raising campaigns and fulfilled the dreams of many Prague Germans to have their own prestigious scene for drama and ballet in German.
The hallmark of the highest quality
The theatre with a large auditorium and rich neo-rococo decorations soon became of the most important international stages. It employed the most famous conductors (for example, Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss) and singers of that time. For more than 50 years, until 1938, it enjoyed international renown, offered extensive repertoires, and enriched the cultural life in Prague.
A century full of twists
Just before the war, however, the artists left the State Opera and sold the building to the Czechoslovak state. During the Nazi occupation, there was no regular programme in the theatre then called the German Opera House. From time to time, only German ensembles gave guest performances there. After the World War II, the building came alive with the actors from the Theatre of the Fifth of May, although they didn’t stay for long. In 1948, the scene became part of the National Theatre (a year later, it got also its new name, Smetana Theatre).
The State Opera in Prague enjoyed the status of an independent institution under the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic between 1990 and 2012, but then it became part of the National Theatre again – despite the obvious indignation of most of the employees. Although the petition for independence of the State Opera was signed by 15,000 people, it didn’t change anything.
How to get there
The State Opera building is situated between the two main arterial roads in the city centre – Wilsonova Street and Resslova Street – near the National Museum and Wenceslas Square. You can get there on foot from the Muzeum metro station (the interchange station of the A and C lines) or from the Hlavní nádraží station (the C line).